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A Reformed Presence on Guam

The island of Guam, 30 miles long and 4 to 12 miles wide, has been reached by the gospel. It also has had a Reformed presence on it since the 1950’s. This Reformed presence includes links to the Protestant Reformed Churches.  

The original inhabitants of the island were called Chamorros. They are relatives of various Pacific island inhabitants. In 1521 Ferdinand Magellan stopped on the island for food and water on his famous journey which circumnavigated the world. As Magellan was sailing under the Spanish flag, soon Roman Catholic missionaries came to the island and converted a large part of the population, upwards of 90 percent at times, to Roman Catholicism. Many of the Chamorros mixed Roman Catholicism with their pagan religions, and that aspect of their religious culture remains today. 

But God in his mercy sent the truth to Guam. In the 1950’s a chaplain in the U.S. Navy, Rev. Lynne Wade, was stationed on the island of Guam. He was thoroughly Reformed and drew believers of like faith to his services. However, he was not liked by the Roman Catholic authorities and was soon discharged from the Navy at the request of those authorities.. He went back to the island and continued working with a group of Filipinos and others whom he had been working with before his discharge. 

Servicemen station on the island continued to attend services sponsored by his group. One of those servicemen had connections to the group that broke away from the Protestant Reformed churches in 1953. His name was John Reynolds. When this group returned to the Christian Reformed Church, the work on the island was continued by the CRC. A Rev. John Hofman came to assist Rev. Wade. He, too, had connections with the PRC and subsequently with the group who left the PRC.  

Rev. Wade disagreed with the doctrine taught by the Hofman’s group and the CRC and began working alone. He later received help from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  He was a member of the OPC and was a chaplain under its authority. The CRC continues the work that they had taken over and has a church in Guam today named Faith Presbyterian Christian Reformed Church. 

Some of the group continued meeting with Rev. Wade. Among those who joined him were Chester and Vivian Hunter as well as Antoinette Borduin. Rev. Wade had been used by God to bring the Hunters to the Reformed faith when Chester had been stationed on the island after World War II. Antoinette was a teacher who was a member of First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. She and her aunt were employed by the government of Guam to teach in the schools. Later she married Ignacio Quenga who converted from Roman Catholicism. This small group continued to meet and work on Guam bringing the Reformed faith to any who would come to them. When Rev. Wade died that work died with him, but it had lasting results. 

Both the Quengas and the Hunters and their families joined the PRC when they moved back to the states. It was later found out that Rev. Wade had contact with Rev. George Lanting while Rev. Lanting served in the armed forces before he became a minister. God’s work is truly past our understanding, but by His providence He gathers His people even on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. While the PRC has no presence on Guam today, the Reformed truth has been brought there and the effects of that bringing are evident in our churches yet today. 

 

Archivist’s note:

This article was submitted to a Beacon Lights writing contest, with the prompt to “Describe the history of the spread of Christianity in another country than the United States. If applicable, include an explanation of Reformed church work in the region, and explore the Christian calling to witness to all nations, tribes, and tongues.” The article above was selected as one of the top 5 submissions in its category.